sudden cardiac death

  1. How depression breaks your heart

    The proverbial broken heart can actually do the job for real: Depressed people have double the risk of heart attack and a much higher risk of heart problems overall than non-depressed people.

    A fluke? No way -- the link has been made way too often, in too many studies.

    And now, the latest research shows how the mental strain of depression can take a physical toll on the body -- specifically in ways that can dramatically boost your heart risk.

    Researchers gave stress tests to 866 people, about 5 percent of whom were depressed -- and these people had a much harder time recovering afterwards.

    In fact, it seems like the stress didn't end with the test: Depressed people had heart rates that kept galloping and blood pressure levels that stayed high well after everyone else returned to normal.

    That's a sure sign of stress on the body -- and researchers say these delays in recovery show that the body's stress response simply isn't working right.

    And you already know what too much stress can do to even the healthiest of hearts.

    That's not the only reason for the link between depression and heart disease. As the researchers behind the new study point out, depressed people tend to have lousy habits -- they let themselves go, and eventually it takes a toll on the body.

    But there's also a third option out there -- one the new study didn't look at: meds.

    Antidepressant drugs can do a number on the body from top to bottom, and the older tricyclic meds that were used to treat depression in the decades before SSRIs came along in particular have been linked to serious heart problems.

    In one study, researchers found that tricyclic antidepressants increased heart risk by more than a third. Another recent study found that both tricyclics and SSRIs increase the risk of stroke in women.

    SSRIs have even been linked to sudden cardiac death in women.

    And if you already have heart disease, SSRIs might make the condition worse or even hasten your death: A Duke University study from 2006 found that heart patients who took the antidepressants had a 55 percent higher risk of death.

    SSRIs have also been linked to everything from personality changes and sexual side effects to headaches, nausea, diarrhea and even suicide -- and they don't even work very well to boot, with many failing to beat placebos in studies.

    Clearly depression can't be ignored. But just as clearly, it can't be treated with meds, either.

    That's enough on depression -- keep reading for the best way to stay happy.

  2. Psychiatric drugs: Bad for your heart, too

    Here's one more reason to avoid psychiatric drugs: There's a possibility they could contribute to sudden cardiac death.

    New research has found that folks who die from cardiac arrest were more likely to have taken one of the three most common kinds of psychiatric drugs – antipsychotics, antidepressants and benzodiazepines, used commonly to treat anxiety.

    Finnish researchers looked at the medications taken by 321 victims of cardiac death and compared it against the drugs used by 609 patients who survived heart attacks, and presented their findings at the annual meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society, held in May.

    And they found that that nearly 11 percent of those who died were taking antipsychotics, versus just 1.4 percent of the survivors. There were also discrepancies with antidepressants (7.4 percent versus 3 percent) and benzodiazepines (18.4 percent versus 5 percent).

    When you consider how over-prescribed these meds are in the first place, that's a lot of people who could be facing an increased risk.

    More research is needed before anyone can say for certain whether there's a real link between these drugs and sudden cardiac death. As a result, the researchers say there's no reason to give anyone advice based on this information just yet.

    But I will, because my advice is based on everything else we already know about these dangerous drugs.

    It's not hard to see how this could be true when you consider all the other side effects of psychiatric drugs.

    When you consider the stakes – your life – and the fact that there are viable, effective alternatives to drugs like antidepressants, there's really no reason to take this risk.

    As I've mentioned before, I rarely prescribe antidepressants to my patients. When I do, it's often a short-term solution when there's no other choice, to help them get by while we work to identify and fix the underlying problem.

    These alternatives are real, they work, and they're safe.

  3. Sudden cardiac death linked to antidepressants

    Some drugs can be worse than the illnesses they treat.

3 Item(s)